What Do Estate Planning and Yoga Have in Common?

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Last fall I felt a renewed calling to return to yoga practice full time. Committing to yoga came from a deep yearning to reconnect with my own body. After being a mom where my body was not my own alone; a law student, where I had to be out of my body and in my head for long periods of time; and a business owner, where I simply did not make time for my body, has taken a toll.

I’ve known for a long time that the work I do as an estate planner has a sacred core to it; something that makes it meaningful to me. It’s slowly dawned on me that the work of estate planning is a lot like the sacred work of yoga.

Tell me what you think:

  • As estate planners, like yoga teachers, we help our clients stretch into new knowledge they may not have been able to understand before. Like learning to do a deep forward bend, we don’t push, but we invite them to find the edge of their comfort zone, and gently relax into it.

  • When we talk about each aspect of planning—death, disability, care of children, probate, family governance and sovereignty, we’re showing them a new “asana,” or pose. Each concept, like an asana, contains a great deal of information to reflect on and an opportunity to grow.

  • When people reach their edge, in yoga and estate planning, emotions surface. This is a chance to allow memories to arise and for us to heal old wounds. But that can only happen when we pay attention and allow ourselves time and space to process those emotions.

  • In estate planning, we are helping our clients see the past, present and future with clarity and care. In the process, we can help them release the tension and worry that goes along with it. In yoga, showing up on the mat helps us integrate our past and future so we can be present in the now.

  • In yoga, we may sweat and work hard but welcome the sensations as the natural way. In estate planning, our clients may sweat and work hard too, and we show them how to welcome their feelings as they also look at the realities of death and disability.

  • In yoga, the final asana is called savasana, known as corpse pose. In this pose, we settle into a comfortable position, letting all our limbs, organs, and systems rest, allowing all the wonderful nutrients circulating in the bloodstream to reach our cells. In savasana, the idea is to mimic the utter stillness of death and give a chance to consider one’s mortality. There, we honor the practice we’ve just completed for our body’s health, knowing we’ve done all we can in that moment. Corpse post reminds us that no one is guaranteed tomorrow. When an estate plan is done the right way, the PFL Way, our clients have a chance to reach that state of complete repose—of resting in the knowledge they’ve done the very best they can, and relaxing into that, can move into full participation in life. Right now. And that is priceless.

Yoga and estate planning remind us to live each day as if it’s our last. Both liberate us from rigidity in body and soul. Both encourage us to enter into the full measure of living open to all of us. And as teachers and lawyers, we have the sacred job of helping our clients stretch into their greatest selves. What better work can there be?

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